Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
We can't say we disagree with the idea the 1978 team was the best Steelers team to win a championship, but more credit should be given to the team's most recent winner - the 2008 squad that did not have the individual talent the teams in the 1970s did.
The panel consists of 15 media members with a combined 2,000 years of NFL experience (that number may be a bit off), clearly establishing some credibility in terms of their selection.
That selection? The 1978 Steelers.
The staff does a great job of giving resumes of each team and what made them great, and it's truly impressive to see bits of trivia such as the 1975 team having won the most competitive division race of all the Steelers' championship teams and needing to beat the previous Super Bowl champion, Oakland, and the next Super Bowl champion, Dallas, to earn their ring.
Call me inexperienced (I am not in the writers wing of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, like a few panel members are), but I don't feel the panel gave enough credence to the 2008 Steelers, a group that wasn't as talented as the 1978 Steelers (or even the 1976 Steelers, a team that didn't win the Super Bowl but had arguably the best defense in league history), but truly defined the notion of a team being more about the sum of its whole rather than the sum of its parts.
This was a team that averaged only 21.7 points per game, 20th in the league, but allowed only 13.9 points per game, one of the lowest totals in recent memory.
And that was with several escalations into the Pro Offense rule changes implemented by the league since the 1978 Steelers bludgeoned their opponents into submission.
Needless to say, the 2008 team had far fewer first ballot Hall of Fame sorts of players on its team - that's sort of apples and oranges, but Mel Blount had more league success than Ike Taylor, and Franco Harris (while not out-and-out dominant that season) gets the nod over Willie Parker.
Still, the 2008 Steelers found ways to win games. They were outplayed against a good Dallas team late in the year and found a way to pull out a victory. They suffered a shocking 13-0 penalty disadvantage against San Diego in the regular season and won the game.
They throttled the Chargers in a divisional round game that saw San Diego have possession of the ball for literally five seconds in the third quarter.
Then they won what could very easily be argued as the most physical playoff game in the passing era, capped off by one of the most dramatic interceptions in franchise history.
It would only get better, too.
The first half of the Super Bowl and the fourth quarter both ended with huge Steelers plays - James Harrison's Super Bowl-record 101 yard interception return, and the combination of the most famous catch in Steelers Super Bowl history as well as a sack and forced fumble on the final play capped off the legacy of a team that simply made huge plays in huge moments.
Certainly, every Super Bowl team deserves at least consideration for the best in franchise history, but that 2008 team didn't have the individual talent of the Steel Curtain dynasty. It just found ways to win - often in dramatic but impressive fashion.